Fun in Grand Marais

February 15, 2018

GRAND MARAIS — Family, friends and a lot of two-steppin’ cousins all made their way to Grand Marais on Tuesday for the annual Mardi Gras Parade.

The Grand Marais Mardi Gras Association’s eight krewes, along with several dance groups, Grand Marshall Lil Nate and the Franklin Senior High School band all made up the 35-entry parade that kept crowds on their feet and loaded with throws.

“We’re trying to carry on the tradition that we have had for the past 37 years,” Jamal Benoit, GMMA president, said.

An estimated 750 to 1,000 people converged on the community in Iberia Parish for the Grand Marais Parade, which has a reputation for being one of the most family friendly celebrations in the Teche Area.

Many people in this year’s large crowd said they weren’t disappointed.

“I’m here with my sons Jameson and Ryder and my fiance James, “ Roxie Jackson of Jeanerette said.

“I’ve been before when I was about 10 or 11 with my mom but this is the first time I’ve been back since I have my own family,” Jackson said.

Russel Valsin of Grand Marais enjoyed the day with four of his grandsons 13-year-old Trohn, 12-year-old twins Trysten and Tristen, as well as 8-year-old Traylon.

“The weather is beautiful and it’s just something we do every year. Its very family-oriented,” Valsin said.

A live disc jockey kept the crowds in the Mardi Gras spirit as they waited for the floats to roll. Then the parade-goers were treated to a free concert by zydeco artist Lil Nate and the Big Timers.

It was a day of fun that took a year’s worth of preparation.

“This is a year long process. We start immediately after the parade, on the next year’s (event),” Benoit said. “It takes raising money, doing fundraisers, contacting bands and coming up with new ideas to get ready for the next year.”

Benoit said the price tag to make the Fat Tuesday festivities a reality each year is between $15,000 to 20,000. Costs include floats, beads, security and bands. An effort the association feels is well worth the crowd-pleasing results.

“The Grand Marais Mardi Gras in general is very unique from the costumes you see walking the parade. It’s the only place your going to find some of these costumes,” Benoit said.

And much to the delight of many kids along the route, with a quick glance here or there you may even see a Mardi Gras (masked man)!

Eight-year-old Traylon Lane came looking for them and even had a request. “I’m trying to look for some candy and some beads,” he said.

Highlighting the parade this year was the Golden Age King and Queen Michael Rose and Mary Batiste, the 2018 King and Queen of the parade Dustin Olivier and Narisa Ledet, Lil Nate as the grand marshal and the winners of the float contest this year, The Unknown Mardi Gras Krewe.